Sunday, January 22, 2012

Snow hike in Right Fork

Well, it looks like winter is FINALLY here. And about darned time, I say.

Bruce, RJ and I decided to go out and celebrate by hiking about four miles up Right Fork Canyon yesterday, right into the teeth of the blizzard. We had an absolute ball - smiles all around, when we didn't have our heads down trying not to get sandblasted by the wind and blowing snow. The blizzard conditions were pretty much limited to above the bench - below that, it was a beautiful, calm snowfall.

Just goes to show how variable things can be up there.

We were able to drive all the way to the Right Fork trailhead. It was obvious that the storm had started out as a slushfall - there were about three inches of slush underneath the skiff of snow that was showing. There had been no snow up there in recent weeks, so we decided to leave the snowshoes in the truck and hike it. Not a bad choice, although snowshoes would certainly have been appropriate a couple of miles in.

We crossed the creek at the higher of the two creek crossings just past the Scout Camp. The little bridge is gone, but the water is low and the rocks are placed appropriately to keep one's feet dry.

HooDoo, a favorite ice climbing destination. Don't know that it's been cold enough recently for this to be safe at the moment.

For the most part, once we got above the Scout Camp, the snow was mid-shin deep to just below the knees. It was over-the-knees in a few places.

Once we got above the bench, we were able to hike almost to the creek crossing before the blizzard really started blowing up. A good place to turn around and head back.

So beautiful up there in the winter.

We turned around right at 8600', which is a little lower than the Lamoille Canyon Road turnaround. There are still a lot of willows showing and no base to speak of.

Figured I'd stay out of the canyon today since there is bound to be a million snowmobiles, will hopefully head up to the turnaround tomorrow on my sled and see if it's skiable yet. Given the avalanche conditions, if I do ski it'll be a meadow-skipping kind of day.

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